As we approach the midpoint of ADHD Awareness Month 2016, our LGBTQIA (Queer) brothers and sisters also celebrate National Coming Out Day which was established almost thirty years ago when it wasn’t safe to disclose one’s sexual identity. Although being openly gay is now more widely accepted the fear of coming out remains. Every year on October 11th, the support of this strong community gives many people the courage they need to reveal their true selves to friends and family.
As an openly gay man who came out more than twenty years ago and as a man only recently diagnosed with ADHD, I find the similarities between our communities intriguing. It’s striking that the ADHD community seems to be struggling with many of the issues the Queer community has partially overcome during my lifetime! I hear the same fear, worry and discouragement from fellow ADHDers as I have from gay friends debating whether or not to come out. I find it mind-boggling that in the year 2016 it seems more acceptable to be gay than to have ADHD!
Just as being gay does not define a person, neither does having a diagnosis of ADHD. As more and more people became aware their friends were gay, they soon realized their similarities far outweighed their differences, which diminished the stigma of being gay. It is my belief ADHD can and will become less stigmatized as we fight for awareness and provide facts that counteract opinion.
My dream is that coming out as ADHD will soon be as commonplace as coming out as Queer is today. For me the decision was easy; I refused to go into an “ADHD Closet”. I know this decision is difficult for many people with ADHD. Every person who chooses to come out must feel comfortable in deciding the right time and place to do so. It is ADDA’s hope that by providing knowledge and awareness, this decision will become easier for all ADHDers in the future.
To reach that point, our ADDA community must remain focused on uniting to provide our fellow ADHDers the necessary support in the face of this difficult choice and the challenges of living with ADHD, regardless of the choice you make. In October of every year we celebrate ADHD Awareness Month. We proudly stand as a group and announce to the world that ADHD is indeed very real. You may very well be unaware someone close to you is struggling with this condition. Please know that ADHD is treatable and it does not make the people who suffer from it in any way bad, broken or defective. Education and awareness helped the Queer community, and it will help ours as well.
I am honored to be part of an organization that understands the vital role visibility plays in acceptance for the Queer community. The same visibility is also vital in advancing awareness of ADHD. The leadership of ADDA and I encourage you to take a moment today to reflect on your ADHD journey and that of our Queer brothers and sisters as we both continue to fight for acceptance.